Apr 22 2013

Shifting to high (and low) gear

With the exception of a missed spring on the last part order (sucks that the $4 spring prevents a $300 rebuild from being completed), the final setting of the rear drum, and the front yolk, the transfer case has been completely rebuilt. The front yolk will require that I borrow the impact wrench from my dad again to get the appropriate 100-120 ft. lbs. of torque on the nut. The rear companion flange and drum will get pressed on once the spring has been replaced and the shoes adjusted. Since the output shaft of the transmission runs through the input opening of the case, and the input gear is bolted to it, I’ve left the rear inspection cover loosely seated for now.

Luckily, the shift from 2W high to 4W high and from 4W high to 4W low all work just as expected. Once everything is mated up, and filled with oil, it should operate even better than before.

After a small digression to the bell crank installation (I still can’t get the oil retention seals to seat properly), I pulled the transmission up onto the work bench. It’s not only lighter than the transfer case, but isn’t nearly as odd shaped either (if I ever meet one of the engineers that designed that case, I think I’ll punch him in the nose). The output shaft already became dislodged during the removal of the transfer case way back when. That not only necessitates a rebuild to “fix” but also helps remind me to make sure I secure that shaft once I get done to prevent me from having to do it all over again.

Removing the top case revealed far less going on inside than I anticipated. I expected a labyrinth of gears and bearings, especially after working on the much simpler transfer case. Instead, there is a lower gear cluster that is more or less a single piece with a complicated mounting scheme, a reverse idler gear off to one side, and the direct/second gear cluster up top. Taking everything apart makes me glad I didn’t place an order earlier in the weekend to get that spring. I need a new second speed gear, a new pair of blocking rings, and I’m slightly iffy on my reverse gear. Since reverse and first speed aren’t synchronized, a lot of grinding happens. I also need to take a second look at the clutch sleeve and decide if that needs to be replaced also. Aside from those replaced gears and a fresh set of bearings and seals, I’ll be ready to start rebuilding the transmission. I’m going to try and get a few more parts tore down and then get a box of parts down to the parts store to get them cleaned up nice. I’ll be sure to include the supporting crossmember as well as the two drive shafts.

Which brings me to a slight conundrum. I’ve done so much work so quickly on the gear boxes, that I need to decide what I’ll be doing next. I’ve gone far enough that I can go back and finish some small odds and ends. For instance, I could tow the thing down to the driveline place to get the pinon seals replaced on the front and rear. The brake system still needs to be filled with fluid and the air evacuated. I should also consider fixing the leak on the front knuckles since I neglected to properly seal the bottom kingpin caps (not looking forward to that and the 600W oil that’s inside).

All that will surely keep me busy for a few weeks, but the very next thing I need to work on to finish the chassis is going to be getting the engine rebuilt. I honestly didn’t think I’d get to this point this soon after having a rolling chassis. I’m happy that I’m to this point, and even more happy that I’ve been putting away Jeep money for such a big cost. I think I’ll likely spend a few weeks getting the rest of the small stuff done before getting the engine done, like finally lubricating all the zerk joints.

For now, it’s time to focus on the gear box.


Apr 7 2013

Starting year 3 with Ike

I can hardly believe that it’s been just a little over three years since I first brought Ike home from Temecula. It’s been a great three years, and now that I’m nearing 2.5 years in restoring him, my efforts are starting to actually look like something that can and will drive again.

After last weeks success in getting the intermediate gear and shaft pulled from the transfer case, it was time to get that pesky output gear cluster out. As I mentioned last time, the problem with continuing the removal is that the gear cluster is held together with a snap ring that prevents the whole thing from sliding apart. In order to get to said snap ring, I had to pull a bearing off of the front part of the shaft to expose the snap ring for removal. I was unlucky enough to have a bearing that didn’t want to just slide off, and instead required the creation of a special tool. Using a Chinese made hatchet and a 4″ grinder, I cut out an opening notch so that it could gently pry the bearing from the shaft. Shocker of shock, it actually worked like it should have!

With the output gear cluster out, and the final bearing race removed, the case was ready to be cleaned. Using a little degreaser and the pressure washer just about all the grease and most of the paint came right off. Unfortunately, the inside is showing quite a bit of buildup of some sort, so I’ll be looking at potentially taking it down to get dipped if I can find a machine/engine shop that will do it without charging me too much. While the case was drying, I used the wire wheel to clean the shifters, transfer case oil pan, inspection cover, and the parking brake lever. Due to the amount of build up on the front output cap, it’s getting a nice soak (as well as the front yolk) in the ammonia fumes over night to see if it can clean up a bit. If I get the main case dipped, I’ll take those parts with it to get done.

I’ve gone so quickly through this process, that I’m actually ready to put my next parts order in. I’ll replace a bunch of the parking brake parts, as well as the bearings, intermediate shaft, thrust washers, oil seals, and gaskets. I’m also going to need a new brake pedal since both of my candidates have actually worn through and resemble a neutral country’s namesake cheese then a solid brake petal. If I can get the case cleaned up, hopefully I can get it painted on Saturday and start putting it back together on Sunday. Don’t know if it will work out that way, but we’ll see.


Apr 5 2013

Splitting some gears

After getting much of the errata off of the transfer case nearly two weeks ago, it was time to flip the thing all over and remove the innards. Following a couple of guides online (one even based on the other with a few more pointers), I was able figure out that I needed two things – first a brass hammer with a brass drift, and second a MUCH better impact wrench. This last weekend I had my dad come by with an electric impact wrench with far more torque then my cheapy Chinese-made weekend special. With the more torquey wrench, the front yolk nut came (almost) right off.

The more difficult thing to find was the brass drift. A certain Chinese tool distributor had a 2 pound brass hammer available for sale, but not a single place I checked actually had a brass drift, let alone one that was at least a half inch diameter and 7-ish inches long. So what’s a guy to do on a four day weekend with no place to get a brass drift? In this case, it was spending 3 days looking for the tool locally only to give up on Sunday and stop working on the t-case. Instead, I just ordered one (and a hammer) on Amazon which I received on Wednesday.

Since I was in class again on Wednesday, Thursday night was banging metal against metal with metal in between night.  As you can see in the picture below, the brass hammer did what it was designed to do and sacrificed itself and its shape to prevent damage to that pesky intermediate shaft. Luckily, there is a whole lot of banging left in it for putting this thing back together.

While reading the rebuild guides, there was one part in particular that had me hoping that I would not need to make (or rent/borrow) a special tool for separating the output gear cluster. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m not lucky enough to have an easy-ish to remove front bearing. Since it would appear your typical pickle fork doesn’t have a wide¬†enough opening, it’s time to head to the Chinese tool depot and grab a cheap hatchet and some grinding wheels to make what you see below.

So without that tool, I’m somewhat stuck. The main gear cluster needs to be separated in order for it to come out of the case so I can begin cleaning the case. Speaking of cleaning greasy parts, ammonia is a magical cleaning liquid. As you can see below, I stuck a bunch of greasy parts in a pretty pink tub, covered with plastic wrap, and then sealed in so that the fumes would go to work on the thick grease. Letting the parts sit overnight, and with a pressure washer the next morning, the results were astonishingly good for how little elbow grease (pun!) went into the parts. Even the paint came off of a few parts, which is just one less layer I’ll have to worry about when it comes time to wire wheel them before painting. Can’t wait to do the same for the actual transfer case and related parts.

That’s it for now. This weekend is going to be a bit hectic, but I’m going to try and get out and get that hatchet to hack up for splitting the gear cluster. Let’s hope there is something worth posting next week.

Oct 9 2012

Rzeppa setbacks

After another weekend of work, I’m getting fairly close to having a rolling chassis in my garage. This weekend was all about getting the pieces for my front axle prepped for paint and final assembly. This meant sandblasting, sandblasting, and more sandblasting. I got the rest of the brake parts blasted and ready (both backing plates, drums, and lower connecting plate), the hubs completed, and the differential cover blasted and cleaned. I’ll have to go back and get the spindles that I swapped out when I did the axle shaft removal from the parts Jeep though, since the correct bushing are on those ones, and they’ve already been cleaned and painted.

With all that blasting done, it was time to get down to the axle shaft disassembly. I started with the short shaft since it was easier to wield around and deal with. After getting enough grease off of all the ends and parts I noticed that there were three small screws on a retention plate holding the whole thing together. I also noticed what I imagine to be some sort of “locking” procedure to make sure the screws didn’t back out. Once the screws were set, a punch was used to deform the metal around the screw and plate to keep them together.

Once I “reformed” the metal and slowly backed the screws out, I was left with the two cages and ball bearings. It took me about 45 minutes to figure out how everything came out, since everything appeared to be too big to actually come out of the casing. After pulling out the middle pilot pin, I was able to rotate the cages past their normal travel and pop out the ball bearings. Then, I removed the inner cage by aligning the races with the wide windows on two sides of the outer cage, and from there it pretty much all came out. Moving on to the next shaft, the first thing I noticed after unwrapping it was the chipped spline on the differential side. I was not happy to see that. Here I thought the $400 parts Jeep was about to save me $375 in new axle shafts. Now it looks like I’ll have to at least replace that shaft unless I can get the other Spicer jointed one fixed. We’ll find out on Friday.

After the disappointment with the shafts, I decided to tear into one of the locking hubs I pulled from the parts Jeep. ¬†These Warn model M54A locking hubs were one of the things that I was hoping to put onto a finished Jeep that would be non-stock (the other big one being an overdrive). The front axels are full floating which means the wheel rests on a fixed spindle. Since the spindle is fixed, the hub is driven by a drive flange that ties the end of the axle shaft with the hub, thus enabling the transfer of power. A lockout hub, like these Warns, have an adjustable drive flange that can be disengaged from the tip of the axle shaft to allow the wheels to move without the whole axle being engaged. Even when in 4×2 mode, the movement of the front wheels causes the entire front axle, drive shaft, and transfer case to spin, putting unnecessary load on parts that aren’t actually being used for a transfer of power.

The goal now is to get the parts painted on Friday and take my axle shaft down to a driveline place to see if there is any actual problem with the shaft (the yolks look bent to me) or if the joint is just crooked. If that shaft is good, I can get a new joint to install, purchase a rebuild kit for the remaining Rzeppa joint, and be on my way. Here’s hoping Friday is filled with good news.

Feb 5 2012

Big Weekend

In what will surely be only the first major component that needs to be farmed out for work, I finally got the frame sandblasted. Performance Powder Coating in Apple Valley did a fantastic job, especially considering how long it would have taken me to do the same work.

With the help of my buddy Joe, I got it picked up and we took it over to his dad’s place. After what seemed like just a short time, the old spring pivot joint was gone, and a new piece of metal was welded in.

Above you can see the before with the horrible weld job that was done. To the right you can see that the joint has been removed. While he was at it, I had him remove the remaining outriggers so I can be sure the frame gets painted under them. I’ve got a little clean up to do and then it will be ready to paint.

Today, though, I didn’t do any additional work on the frame, but instead focused on getting the front axle blasted and the first coat of paint out on. Since most of the axle was already wire wheeled, sand blasting went extremely quick since it was more or less just touch up in areas that I couldn’t get to with the wheel.

After getting it back up on the bench (I found out about half way through getting it back from the drive way that without the knuckles installed, I can carry the axle without the assistance of other tools). Much like I did with the rear axle, I ‘ll complete the full housing before I do the differential cover. It has got some serious baked on something or other on there that will need special attention.

The first coat of POR15 went on relatively easy. There are a few spots that I’ll need to pay special attention too, and the whole thing will get a second coat before getting a final topcoat of Rustoleum for the gloss and UV protection that I’m looking for.

This coming weekend I’ll hopefully also get the most stubborn U-Joint removed from the long axle shaft. I’m also going to clean up the knuckles, backing plates, hubs, and spindles in preparation for their reconstruction. I’ve also gotta start either looking for a place to get the frame primed and painted the way I want, or determine if it’s something I can do in my garage.

But, there is one more thing…

I was also the lucky bidder on a rather nice looking original Carter W-O 636SA carburetor on eBay today. So yeah, a pretty good weekend for Ike. 

Nov 6 2011

Prepping for completion

Since I don’t have all my parts yet (should be here tomorrow), I had to just do some last minute prep work to get ready to finish the rear axle. After talking with a few people online, I decided to just use some spray on engine enamel for the backing plates. Cheaper (since I already have the paint) than powder coating, and I don’t have to take it somewhere and wait for it to get completed.

To get the backing plates, and the grease retainer, ready for paint I had to fire up the sandblaster. I was hoping that there was enough grease and brake dust on the plates that a quick cleaning would get me to a point where I could do a lithe scraping and get some paint on them. Naturally I wasn’t anywhere near that lucky. The only nice part was that the two backing plates and two small retainers didn’t take that long to blast. I’m hoping I can spray a quick couple of coats after school this week to be ready to go with assembly on the long weekend. Only problem might be the dropping temperatures as we get into winter.

After getting the backing plates blasted, I finished up the paint on the U-bolts and they look ready to attach. Last pieces to get paint will probably be the rear shock plates. The rear shock plates were the only ones that don’t need work before I can put them on. The front ones, not so much. Haven’t decided yet if I want to replace the front ones, or just fix em. There isn’t much metal left on the rods, but there may be enough that a quick braze and some grinding can bring them back up to the right sizes. We’ll see when I get to that point.

Oct 31 2011

In the rear with the gear

With the rear axle differential finally buttoned up, it’s time to turn my attention to getting it completed. I’ve decided to keep my 9″ brakes rather than upgrading to 11″ drums. While the white parts Jeep already has the 11’s on there, it looks to require a bit more re-engineering than what I’d like to go through at this point. I can always go back later and do a swap if it hits me as something I want to do. With how infrequently this vehicle will be driven, and at the speeds it is capable of, I don’t think upgrading to larger brakes is an immediate goal of mine. I also spent some time giving the rear U-bolts a quick coat of paint. Hanging them up in the garage to dry made them look like a really stupid Christmas ornament.

So with the brake decision out of the way, I placed an order for new brake hardware for the rear axle. Soon Ike will be donning powder coated backing plates, new shoes, new shoe springs and mounting/adjusting hardware, and freshly turned drums. Once the brakes are re-built, I’ll start running the brake lines. After I get the rear axle off of my bench, it’ll be time to start on the front axle, which should prove to be quite a bit more complicated than the rear axle. I have a feeling that those knuckles are going to prove to be a¬†formidable¬†adversary to deal with, but I may be¬†pleasantly¬†surprised. I’m really hoping that I don’t have to replace much other than seals and retaining rings on it, except for the pinion seal which happens to be leaking again. If the pinion seal on the front is damaged, then I’ll have to take it in to get replaced. I don’t have the tools or the knowledge to properly remove the pinon nut and yoke and put it all back together the way it should be.

Sep 11 2011

Starting the front axle

I know I said that the front axle was done with paint, but I decided to give it a shot of semi gloss and now it looks much better. I also removed the zerks for the axle bearings and found that they are mostly clean. I’ll have to push some grease through them to make sure no paint got in there. Looks like my putting the nails into the holes to keep paint out worked well.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry I decided to roll out the front axle and start cleaning. After scraping off about three pounds of grease and dirt, I started with the wire wheel. After obliterating the grime around the brake lines I tried to remove them from the axle. One side came right off where the steel line meets the flexible hose for the steering knuckles. The passenger side of the Jeep has always been a bit more difficult to work on, especially up front there the battery had overflowed a time or two spreading corrosive battery acid all over that side. After making the flare nut look more like a shiny super thick round washer, I ended up just cutting the line to remove the majority of it. I’ll have to see if I can get the clip free with some penetrating oil and some banging and prying. Hopefully it will come loose.

The trouble I’m having now is if I should sand blast the axle as it is now to keep any possible sand from getting into it, or if I should start to brake down the knuckles to make it easier to work with. At this point I’m leaning towards blasting as is and then pulling the knuckles apart and blasting those separately.

Since I’m getting to the point where I have to start putting things together, I’m going to have to place an order or two. I’m going to need my differential gaskets, knuckle seals, grease retainers, grease (!), and oh yeah, I still need to order brakes. I’ve got two suppliers right now that I’m trying to evaluate. One is great over email, and the other prefers the phone, so comparing information and products is slow. The other problem is finding the money for the parts purchases. So far I’ve only had to purchase a few small things to get to this point. Moving from 9″ brakes to 11″ brakes is surprisingly not going to cost me much more than replacing the 9″ brakes sans the backing plate.

In any event, I’ll hopefully have an idea of what I need to order next week after tearing down the knuckles and seeing what needs to be replaced. I’m hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Sep 5 2011

Last bit of paint on the rear axle

The rear axle is all but finished as far as painting goes. After putting the second coat on the differential cover, it’s just about time to button it all up. I’ll be putting in an order for a differential cover gasket, I’ve already purchased new fastening hardware, and the only thing I’ll need after that is some differential oil.

While I’m happy to be nearing completion on the finishing of the axle, I’m slightly less happy with the way the semi-gloss POR15 dried. When I chose to purchase the semi-gloss over the gloss, I was hoping for a finish similar to some of the other paint I have used. When the POR15 first went on the axle, it was rather glossy. I took comfort in knowing that it would dry and dull slightly. However, it appears that like all things dealing with paint, the amount of gloss left behind is all subjective. I would call the finish matte black rather than semi-gloss, but that’s just me. I could only imagine what matte black would be to this company.

In order to combat that I decided that I’m going to give the parts a quick shot of semi-gloss spray paint. I’ve used it before on other parts and it’s rather resilient, plus with the POR15 underneath it should give me the best of both worlds. While putting the second coat on the differential cover this afternoon, I gave it a quick spray to see what the results are using both POR15 and some good rattle can paint.

I was also finally able to talk to a few parts suppliers about upgraded brakes. It seems the piece that is the hardest to find and get ahold of is the backing plate and core hardware. As drums, especially drums intended for this type of installation, have fallen in popularity in favor of disc brakes, no new backing plate hardware is being produced. I’ve put in emails to two suppliers that specifically sell the conversion kits, and another two that don’t have them listed on their site. We’ll see what happens there.

I also put in my order for the brake forming and flaring tools. Once I get those, I’ll go and get the brake line stock and start a few practice flares and forms before I go to work on the axle. I think I’m also getting to the point where I have to stop putting off getting my frame sand blasted and prepped and need to start figuring out what I’m going to do there.


Aug 28 2011

Painting the rear axle

It took two days due to the incredible heat and humidity limiting how much time I felt like spending outside, but I did get the brakes completely removed and the first coat of POR15 on a majority of the axle. I received my puller early last week, and it sure make a huge difference having an appropriately sized tool. The two that I had borrowed from my father-in-law were far too small to fit around my studs. After lubing the center screw, mounting pulling arms and center body, and getting the anvil wrench on, I went to town pounding. It only took a few good pounds to pull the hub off of the tapered axle shaft.

After looking at the internal brake parts, I went to work getting the assembly off so I could pull the backing plates off. I started on the drivers side, and after figuring out what the additional “adjusters” did on the backside of the backing plate, I was able to spread the shoes far enough out that I could remove the slave cylinder, the spring, and lastly the bottom anchors. Once the assembly was off, the backing plate and axle shims came right off. I ended up zip-tying the axle shaft keys into place, just so I wouldn’t loose them.

After I got the brake parts off, I finished cleaning up the axle flanges that I couldn’t quite get to while the bolts where in place. I also used the wire wheels to get a few spots I had missed with the sand blaster as well as some areas that had some seepage of oil from around the differential cover and the vent holes on the axle tubes. Since the surface was newly cleaned, appropriately scuffed/rough, then it was time to start paining.

I decided to do the everything but the differential cover. I’ll pull that off, give it a good blasting, and then paint it and put it back on with a proper gasket and new fasteners. I still have at least one more coat of POR15 to put on the axle, and I still need to get the areas being held by the jack stands. Luckily it’s going to be ready for brakes here fairly soon.